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Why Chris Christie and Jeb Bush were snubbed by social conservative leaders

Former Gov. Jeb Bush addressed the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md. Creative Commons image by Gage Skidmore

(RNS) New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush were not invited to a major gathering of social conservatives in Washington last weekend in what was viewed as a serious snub of two men considered prominent Republican presidential contenders for 2016.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has vowed to veto a bill that would make New Jersey the eighth U.S. state to legalize gay marriage. Photo courtesy Bob Jagendorf

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, photo courtesy Bob Jagendorf

“They were not invited this year because they just weren’t on the top of the list in terms of what they are doing right now and whether or not it was relevant to the values voters and who they want to hear from,” said Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council and chief organizer of the Values Voter Summit, which opened on Friday and ended Sunday (Sept. 28).

“They shouldn’t take it the wrong way,” Perkins told David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network in an interview taped on Friday.

But in his report, Brody said the two men had been “snubbed” and that’s not good news for any presidential aspirations they may harbor.

The Values Voter Summit is the pre-eminent venue for GOP candidates who hope to showcase their bona fides to the crucial conservative Christian bloc, and Christie and Bush — the elder brother of former President George W. Bush — are seen as Republicans who could appeal to the center of the electorate but who have not won the hearts of social

Former Gov. Jeb Bush addressed the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md. Creative Commons image by Gage Skidmore

Creative Commons image by Gage Skidmore

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush addressed the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md.


Those voters, predominantly white evangelicals, are key to winning the GOP primaries.

Christie and Bush “are quite frankly not at the top of the list when it comes to values voters, who they want to hear from,” Perkins said.

“We have a list of good, conservative leaders that are fighting on our issues right now that wanted to be part of this,” he said.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, a Tea Party favorite who wowed the crowd with a red meat, faith-filled speech, on Sunday won a straw poll of the delegates for the second straight year with 25 percent of the votes. He finished ahead of retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and former Arkansas GOP Gov. Mike Huckabee.

“We stand for life,” Cruz told the nearly 2,000 delegates. “We stand for marriage. We stand for Israel. We bring back jobs and opportunity and unleash small businesses to make it easier for people to achieve the American dream. We abolish the IRS. We repeal Common Core.”

“He’s not apologizing,” Perkins told reporters after the speech. “Values voters find that refreshing.”

Other Republican hopefuls who addressed the summit included Lousiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.

Perkins said Christie and Bush could well be invited next year as the presidential election heats up, especially if they throw their hats into the ring.

Social conservatives are struggling to maintain their status as a pillar of the Republican Party as the GOP engages in sharp debates over its identity and what it will take to recapture the White House. In that debate, religious conservatives are contending with economic conservatives and defense hawks, who often hold conflicting views on the party’s priorities.


About the author

David Gibson

David Gibson is a national reporter for RNS and an award-winning religion journalist, author and filmmaker. He has written several books on Catholic topics. His latest book is on biblical artifacts: "Finding Jesus: Faith. Fact. Forgery," which was also the basis of a popular CNN series.


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  • If anything, being snubbed by the social conservatives should actually be a plus in the GOP primary.

    In 2012, the social conservative candidates gave the primary a feeling of “the inmates taking over the asylum”. All of them were far too divisive and ridiculous to be considered for the presidency. (Huckabee, Bachmann, Santorum) Being in with the Christian bloc was not enough to be elected even within the conservative’s own party let alone for national office. In 2012 Romney was the only candidate who fit the bill as a “fiscal conservative” and he severely downplayed religious conservative angles (as compared to his competition).

    Being ignored by Tony Perkins is actually a selling point for Christie and J-Bush. The “values” platform is divisive, relies on bigotry, and is becoming increasingly unpopular for the majority of votes.

    Although the social conservatives make all of the noise, in the end the votes go to the one who appears most “electable”. Usually the fiscal conservative.

  • Larry,

    “Although the social conservatives make all of the noise, in the end the votes go to the one who appears most “electable”. Usually the fiscal conservative.”

    Yes, I see how this is. I would not be at all surprised if a “no name” came into the picture.

    L Thiel

  • I snub all politicians since God’s kingdom or heavenly government is the only hope for all mankind (Daniel 2:44).

  • It’s joyous to know that God’s kingdom will soon replace ALL of man’s governments, which governments will become moot and pointless.

    Man’s governments are doomed like the Titanic was. Yet many people today still support a sinking ship that will only go down to certain death. If that is what they prefer, that is their choice.

    I will stay on the lifeboat, supporting God’s kingdom, which will provide safety to a new world, that will be governed by righteousness, love and justice, for a change. 😀

  • I don’t see why they didn’t invite Christie and Jeb Bush. Neither politician has said anything different from the more vocal social conservatives on “values” issues. I think Jeb Bush is a shadow of his former self, Christie has his own set of problems, and Bush has zero chance of getting the nomination because he is no longer sharp, but they still should have been invited.

  • Fran, based on that logic, you might as well not participate in any human activity, because every aspect of earthly life is tainted by the same fallenness you rightly ascribe to politics. To be a Christian is not to withdraw from political life because it’s broken, but to participate in spite of the brokenness, because the alternative is to abandon it totally to darkness.

  • Half of the regulars here must be peculiarly obtuse and intemperate employees of the Christie and Jeb Bush press offices.

    While we are at it, Christie actually is an antagonist of the evangelical subculture, as well as someone of dubious loyalty to those around him and to his political party. In spite of the hype, New Jersey’s not in the best shape fiscally. Fat lout’s not a class act and I’m not sure why anyone wants to hear from him.

    As for Bush, his judgment’s impaired and he’s addled by his own damaged social vision. Some of Bush’s problematic projects are discussed here

    and here

    and here

    Then again, Mr. Perkins may be operating under the anxiety that the Bush family are very adept at assembling donors and publicity campaigns which bag them elective office but then seem to leave quite a bit of debris in their wage for other Republicans to sort out and you’d best not associate with them.

  • Christie rolled over when the NJ Supreme Court declared marriage equality legal. So the social conservatives don’t think he cares enough about their platform. They wouldn’t be his voting base anyway. At best they would do what happened in 2012. Vote for the fiscal conservative who survives the primary because they detest the Democrat candidate.

  • @Jack,

    “To be a Christian is not to withdraw from political life…but to participate…because the alternative is to abandon it totally to darkness.”

    Where do you get the idea that Jesus requires you
    to be active in politics? That appears to be total nonsense.

    How comforting it must be to you that the creator of all the universe
    needs your humble help!

  • Both Christie and Bush are Catholic. That would not set well with the religious right extremists, southern evangelicals, of the Republican Party. The party has used religious extremists, as well as economic extremists, for years to build its conservative base.

    The moral behavior of Christie would hardly be considered very upright for any Christians. Jeb Bush may have been a Catholic convert of genuine conviction, or it may be seen as convenient in his marriage to a Catholic hispanic woman.

    Bush also suffers from his conservative record as governor of Florida the same as Christie suffers from his conservatism and “moral turpitude” in New Jersey,
    but it remains to be seen if the very non-Catholic Republican Party is ready for a Catholic like Christie or a Catholic like Bush.

    Besides, we’ve already had two Bushes in our White House, the second one no compliment to any considered dynasty. And as Barbara Bush, in her typical blunt way, pronounced at the opening of her son George’s presidential library when asked about Jeb’s chances, “We’ve had enough Bushes in the White House.”

  • Especially since it was the political Jews and the political Romans who arranged the political assassination of Jesus. Darkness either way.

  • But there are so many “kingdoms” attributed to “God.” How do you know you’re on the right one before “righteousness, love and justice” occur? The one we’re on certainly cannot be considered to exist with any of those attributes, not now and not at any time in its history. How much time do you have to wait?

  • Gilhcan,

    What do you mean by “so many kingdoms attributed to God”? To which kingdoms are you referring?

    I am only aware of God’s kingdom or heavenly government which Daniel prophecied about (Daniel 2:44), which is the same kingdom that Jesus preached about (Matthew 4:17), and which he said was no part of this world (John 18:36).

    We have many earthly kingdoms or governments of man on earth, but none of them would qualify since they are all ruled by imperfect men.

    Isaiah 11:1-5 describes the type of rule that Jesus, as King of that heavenly kingdom, will exercise over all mankind on earth after it puts an end to all human governments.

  • If Fran doesn’t want to vote, that is OK by me. I only hope she can convince many of her fellow extreme Christians to refrain, as well.

  • Both Christie and Bush are Catholic. That would not set well with the religious right extremists, southern evangelicals, of the Republican Party.

    You’re utterly ignorant. Denominational chauvinism has never been a feature of the sort of evangelical political engagement which emerged after 1970.

  • The chauvinism exists, but it is not as important as it used to be.

    In 2012, many of the ultra-religious extremists didn’t want to vote for a Mormon in the last election. But they were willing to stifle their animosity under the threat of Obama’s re-election.

  • Well that was rather rude. No sense in even pretending to be civil with you, ever. For any reason. It is clear you are nothing but a nasty ignorant troll.

  • The Great God Plan,

    It is not necessary for me to convince any in my faith, who number approximately eight million worldwide, not to vote or get involved in politics or wars.

    We are all on the same page and will continue with our stand and preaching that God’s kingdom or heavenly government is the only hope for all mankind.

  • Jack Mathys,

    Jesus himself said, “Happy are you when men hate you, and whenever they exclude you and reproach you and cast your name as wicked for the sake of the Son of man.”
    (Luke 6:22) 😀

  • Fran, some of these boys here are such religion-illiterates that they don’t even know what religious group you’re a part of, nor what your religion teaches regarding political involvement.

    Which means that some (not all, but some) of these guys who are responding to you in this thread, effectively represent ignorance on steroids.

    So I favor teaching comparative religion at the high school level, so as to someday produce more Americans who can possibly qualify (maybe) to post minimal comments on RNS discussion boards.

    It’s a long shot but you gotta start somewhere!

  • Many Christians will not vote for Jeb Bush because while he was governor he allowed Peter Hill to be put to death ..
    and Chris Christy many are not comfortable with either,, a trust issue..

  • @ opheliart

    not really many of just vote for a third party candidate..
    or write some one else we like in..

  • Fran ———–God established earthly governments of the world also..
    he rules over them also for the good of his people.. that’s why when Jesus was arrested by the earthly Government Jesus said you have no power over me if my Father had not given it to you..

    so we can vote if we want to even for the better of two evil choices .. because God works even the bad out in the end for those who love him ..

    st Paul also tells governments in his letter to the Romans what is expected of them and also us concerning Government,, in his letter to the romans ..

    its on them if they don’t live up to their duty to us and on us if we don’t live up to our duty to Government ..
    and Paul wrote from prison where he was unjustly put by his government….YET JUST LIKE Jesus he stood up for it.,, .When it came to our duty to it.. AND ITS DUTY TO US..

  • Im not saying you have to vote one must follow their conscience in such matters Fran Many of our Lutheran women now vote because of prolife issues not because they want to have their way and say over the men that vote..

  • Lutherans are very willing to vote for Roman Catholics .. the problem is most
    of them are pro choice not Pro life as one would think they would be..
    most of them are also for gay marriage again not what you would think they would be for..

  • Jeb Bush and is future running make will continue to snub social conservatives because he know they are a liability